Dec. 20, 2011
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) - An unforgettable run to the NCAA national semifinals by the Florida State University indoor volleyball team has been capped by the highest national ranking in school history, checking in at No. 7 in the final American Volleyball Coaches Association poll of the 2011 season.
FSU's rewarding finish in the latest poll tops the school's previous high of No. 11 in the final 2009 poll following the school's run to the NCAA Elite Eight. The Seminoles' (28-7) season was highlighted by a run to the Final Four as the tournament's No. 12 national seed, which included getting through the only regional in Minneapolis that had all of its remaining teams nationally-seeded in No. 13 Minnesota, No. 5 Purdue and No. 4 Iowa State.
"This is another great honor that is a product of a lot of hard work from our players," head coach Chris Poole said. "It's a reward for them to see they finished as high as they did, and it shows that our program continues to head in the right direction."
This season, the Seminoles faced 16 opponents who were in the NCAA Tournament and finished with an impressive 13-7 overall record. FSU defeated three teams in the final AVCA Poll, downing No. 8 Iowa State in the Elite Eight, defeating No. 10 Purdue in the Sweet 16 and No. 13 Kentucky in the season-opener. During the season, FSU also earned nationally-ranked wins over then-No. 23 Tulsa, then-No. 23 Dayton and then-No. 20 Miami.
In the midst of its NCAA national semifinal trip in San Antonio, several individual performers were also recognized by the AVCA. The reputable volleyball organization named Poole the east region coach of the year, honored associate head coach Holly Watts as the national assistant coach of the year and named senior outside hitter Jekaterina Stepanova as a second-team All-American. Senior outside hitter Visnja Djurdjevic and sophomore middle blocker Ashley Neff also were named honorable mention All-Americans.
The Seminoles fast ascension in the national volleyball ranks can be pointed to its recent finishes. In the last three seasons, FSU is one of four NCAA Division I programs that has made at least one Elite Eight and at least one national semifinal, joining Penn State, Texas and USC.
FSU has also finished higher in the national rankings and farther in the NCAA Tournament than any other Division I school in Florida in two of the last three years, and become just the second school from the Sunshine State to reach the NCAA national semifinals this season.
Adding to its illustrious season, the Seminoles finished the year with the No. 7 ratings percentage index in the nation, adding six Top 25-RPI victories to its season-long résumé that also includes the school's fourth Atlantic Coast Conference championship.